The concept of slowing down.
I say the ‘concept’ for a specific reason; when I was nearly at the point of burnout, I had everyone telling me to slow down. My parents would tell you I came out of the womb doing things at 10,000 miles per hour. Constantly doing everything fast paced and picking things up quickly during my childhood and my career.
During my career, I had people telling me to slow down as I was making others look bad. But my natural pace in how I talk, how I walk, how I breathe and do everything, is FAST!
Yet, I had people around me during my burnout telling me to slow down and I couldn’t get the concept of what slow looks like. If you are a naturally fast person like me, how do you find ‘slow’?
I burnt out and as part of my recovery I went full pelt into learning everything there was about burnout. I wanted to know what had caused this? How could I stop others experiencing the same? How could I help people to reduce their stress levels?
In addition to my coaching qualification, my psychology degree and all of the facilitation and training qualifications, I became a qualified psychotherapist, a qualified hypnotherapist, I began to study neuroscience. I’ve studied and qualified as a yoga and meditation teacher, a breathwork practitioner, an empowerment teacher, a reiki master and I qualified in all of these things because I wanted to understand people at a deeper level.
So I didn’t slow down as such.
I still have people ask me how I get so much done, how I achieve and accomplish so many things? My answer is; that’s my natural way and the way I’ve always been.
I tried to slow down for a couple of years. I tried to be aware of what others were saying and to ensure I didn’t get to the point of burnout again. I wanted to ensure I was looking after myself. Yet, mentally the internal part of me was still going at 10,000 miles per hour.
I’ve learned to go slower in terms of slowing my breath, my body and my thoughts through meditation- but only for a period.
Slow, steady and considered isn’t really me. I’m a fast-paced person.
I have however learned to be less impulsive, but I am a naturally energetic person. And that’s just me!
I slowed down for everyone else. I know that my burnout didn’t just impact me, it impacted my family and everyone around me. But my mind and my body just wanted to go, go, go and I found myself more agitated and feeling like I had to do nothing in order to recover. But I wanted to walk the dog, put some music on, do some baking, pay some invoices, send emails, message my VA to do something for me, do some gardening. Just do something!
But my mind was telling me “you’ve now told everyone that you’re going to go slow”.
It was during that time that I learnt a lot and got more reading done, but I came to realise that going against what is natural for us, can do more harm than good. Trying to be something I’m not impacted my energy levels, my thought process and my creativity.
I chose to give myself permission to do what’s right for me.
I don’t have to be on all of the time
Rest is good, but I don’t need to stop completely
I’ve given myself the permission to be on or off
I maintain a 4 day working week
I maintain 1 week off every 6
I maintain my time off with family
Even though I have my boundaries in place and my non-negotiables, I can’t honestly say that I’m completely off during days off or holidays. If I want to quickly send an email or have a phone call, I may do that if it feels right. Or I may write it down in my notebook to get it out of my head, to allow me to carry on being ‘off’.
Do you have people around you encouraging you to do something one way, when your natural state is another way?
If you find yourself fighting your natural tendencies to please others, how can you be more of who you are at your core?
There are 7 different types of rest that play an important part of our lives:
Physical- time to recharge and reset. This could be sleeping, napping, lying out in the garden relaxing. It could be in the form of yoga, stretching or we just need a massage.
Mental- you’ll know if you have a mental rest deficit when you’re unlikely to switch your brain off and thousands of thoughts are racing around and you can’t sleep. It could be that you’re becoming forgetful and your concentration is going down. Find something that works for you that allows you to quieten your mind. Journaling, painting, running, exercising, reading.
Social- many of us get overwhelmed by being around people and giving so much of ourselves to others. If you find yourself pulling away from people, then social rest is what you need. Time away from other people and for you to just breathe.
Spiritual- this one can vary depending on our own belief system. Do you have a feeling of belonging? If you start thinking that what you do doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make an impact, it doesn’t make an impression, then it could be a sign you need spiritual rest. Maybe think about meditation, or maybe for you it’s faith based. It could be that you want to go on a spiritual retreat.
Sensory- we might need rest from our screens, bright lights, from the kids screaming. You may find yourself in sensory overload, which can come in the form of rage, anger or irritability. For me it comes out as frustration and my hearing then magnifies ten-fold and everything is amplified.
Emotional- if you start to hide your feelings, repressing your emotions or not wanting to talk about problems, it could be the sign of needing emotional rest. You need to find something that is going to recharge your emotions. That could be journaling, getting out for a walk, meditating, doing something you enjoy or something fun and exciting.
Creative- being a creative person who is in a job where you are constantly looking for solutions, or have to come up with ideas or answers, can be very exhausting. Anytime you need to be innovative and you find yourself with ‘writer's block’, this may mean you need to take creative rest. You could switch tasks, stop trying to find the solution, stop trying to write that paragraph. Go and do something else for a short time. Walk away and allow yourself to do this regularly.
Have a think about these 7 types of rest and look at yourself and your current situation. Which areas do you need to work on right now?
And ask yourself, are you trying to go against who you are naturally and how you work?
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family. Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful.
Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.